Sunday, June 18, 2006

Go free little fishy

Its been a while since I did open water certification dives. Last weekend I was able to work with another instructor and we had two groups of eight students to run through the certification dives.

We had a great time at the lake, except that the visibility was really poor this year. The visibility has been going down every year for a number of years. I think there are a number of factors that influence the visibility in our lake, but two of the contenders are - fertilizer and apparently the stocking of trout in the lake. The trout, I am told, eat the organisms that keep the algae in check. Who know what the actual cause is of the algae - I just know that at this rate we will not be able to use that particular lake for certification dives much longer.

One of the students in the morning class had an interesting surprise for us. He is a marine biology expert and decided that he wanted to release a sunfish that he had raised from a tiny newborn. He received the tiny sunfish from the local Department of Natural Resources in 1999 and kept the fish as an experiment. I am not sure what the experiment entailed, but he told us that he did not want to name the fish since he did not want to become too attached to the fish.

The marine biology expert brought the fish to the lake in a large plastic bucket and when it was time to release the fish we all gathered around the expert in the water (all of us in our full scuba gear). He tilted the bucket so that some of the lake water entered the bucket and held the bucket at an angle so that the fish could swim out if it wanted to. However the fish seemed confused and did not rush out. In fact it backed up a little and it seemed like he just wanted to stay with what was familiar. Eventually he swam a little forward and then back again. He did this a number of times (all the divers were loudly cheering the fish on by this time). Eventually the little fish swam off lazily to the loud cheers of all the students.

The release of the little sun fish was a unique experience for all of us. What a nice way to end a class.

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